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Turkey Says Raqqa Should Be Next Target After Allied Forces Retake Mosul


An Iraqi forces vehicle advances toward the eastern edge of Mosul during clashes with Islamic State near the village of Bazwaya on October 31.

An Iraqi forces vehicle advances toward the eastern edge of Mosul during clashes with Islamic State near the village of Bazwaya on October 31.

Turkey is pushing to make Raqqa, the Islamic State's main stronghold in Syria, the next target after Iraq takes back control of Mosul from IS and Ankara clears its border of IS militants.

"Turkey's stance on the Raqqa operation is clear. It would be better both militarily and strategically to conduct this operation after the Mosul operation and Turkey's Euphrates Shield operation are completed," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on October 31.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week also advocated advancing on Raqqa after Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. coalition air strikes, retake Mosul in coming weeks.

Last week, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said allied forces should urgently move to isolate Raqqa because of concerns that militants in the city are planning to launch attacks against the West.

Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters started their offensive on Mosul on October 17 and on October 31 moved to within one kilometer of the city after virtually surrounding it and trapping IS militants inside.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on IS forces to "surrender or die."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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